The New Orleans Pelicans have fired head coach Stan Van Gundy after just one season, ESPN reported Wednesday morning. Van Gundy was brought in before the 2020-21 season to help mentor a young, talented Pelicans squad looking to take the next step and get into the playoffs. That vision didn’t exactly come to fruition with New Orleans failing to make the postseason, finishing 31-41 and missing out on the play-in tournament by 2.0 games.
Update: Here are a few other candidates the Pelicans are expected to consider: Jacque Vaughn and Ime Udoka (Nets), Jason Kidd (Lakers) and Charles Lee (Bucks), per Woj. Pelicans assistant Fred Vinson is also being considered.
Update: Here’s some good news on the Pelicans head coach front after SVG was fired. The Pelicans are seriously considering hiring assistant coach Teresa Weatherspoon to replace Van Gundy, per The Athletic.
The Pelicans still have a bright future despite these hiccups at head coach. Zion Williamson is a superstar and future MVP candidate. Brandon Ingram is a very good second option, a player who has improved dramatically over the past few seasons into a borderline perennial All-Star. You also have some promising young prospects in G Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Kira Lewis Jr. and Jaxson Hayes. The Pelicans should be able to add to this core with a potential top-10 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft in July.
Now, to Van Gundy, who never really made much sense for the Pelicans. Van Gundy has had plenty of success in his NBA coaching career, mostly with the Dwight Howard Orlando Magic teams. His philosophies are kind of out-dated and it clearly didn’t translate to any success with Zion, Ingram and the young Pelicans. New Orleans needs a coach the team can relate to a bit more. It’ll be stiff competition in the coaching market this offseason, however.